Norwegian version

Maryam helps a public transport company to get ahead of technological development

Picture of Maryam showing something on the quantum computer to professors Sergiy and Sølve who are standing on opposite sides of her. On the table in front of them is a black quantum computer

After Maryam Lotfigolian finished her master's degree in applied computer science and information technology, she spent three summer months to update the company on quantum technology and quantum computers.

“We are looking for ways to incorporate new technology and research into our projects,” says Maryam, while still working for Ruter.

“We expected to get more familiar with quantum computers (QC), learn about their strengths and weaknesses and when it is best to use them.”

The primary goal is to understand this technology, and to determine if it could deliver added value to end users.

Quantum computing

Quantum computing is a new approach to calculation that uses principles of fundamental physics to solve extremely complex problems very quickly. Quantum computers use qubit as the basic unit of information rather than the conventional bit. 

Seeing patterns in enormous amounts of data

Quantum technology may be useful for analysing and seeing patterns in enormous amounts of data.

“Quantum computers is still in its early stages and getting insight into the technology can now help us get an edge when the technology becomes widely adopted.”

The traffic volume in Ruter's trams, buses, and subways in Oslo is already large, and it is growing. The routes and stops are numerous. It provides large amounts of data, and traffic planning has become complicated.

“As the data volume grows, we encounter more complex problems.”

“Quantum technology can primarily make it possible to find solutions faster than traditional methods. And it can also solve a problem more efficiently, like giving better predictions, depending on the problem.”

For example, where and how often is it most appropriate to conduct ticket inspections? 

The fact that travellers buy a ticket means a lot to the company, and the company’s resources should be used where they provide the best benefit.

Photo of trams at the stop Holbergs plass in Oslo. Passengers with umbrellas stand ready to board the tram.

Will there be a ticket inspection today? Quantum computers can make it easier for the public transport company to find optimal times and places for ticket inspections. Photo: Olav-Johan Øye

Finding the best routes for ticket inspection

“Firstly, we want to find the best routes for  ticket controls. The main purpose is to go to the most affected stations.”

“If inspection is totally random, it won’t be very efficient. So, if we can solve optimisation problems, we can recommend which stations should be involved in next week’s ticket inspections.”

 “ And we can give advice on which paths, trams, buses and subways can be controlled, and what might be the best way to control them.”

“If the company gains insight into the weaknesses of this approach, it will help them in the future to get an edge with this technology when they adopt it. They can be at the forefront. It can be a lesson for them.” – Maryam Lotfigolian

In Maryam’s opinion this is the best time to start a quantum technology project for Ruter and other companies.

In the meantime, they can see how much added value this approach has for the end user. 

Faster and more efficient

So far, quantum technology seems to have clear advantages.

“In our project, when we increased the number of variables a lot, we saw that the quantum approach is faster than classical approaches. Because of the rules that it follows, quantum mechanics is more efficient. The basic idea is speed to solve the problem because it can manage complexity.”

“Do you have any idea how this can be carried out in practice, or is it too early to say?”

“That is a relevant question because people always say: ‘We cannot use it in practice’.”

“Based on what I have experienced, we can use it in practice. There are cloud platforms available that can use quantum approaches for a specific kind of problem and solve it. We do not have a quantum computer in Ruter, but it is possible to use cloud solutions.”

Quantum technology arouses interest

“Is there interest for the project in Ruter?’

“There was great interest both internally and externally. Internally from those who were excited about implementing quantum approaches in the real world, the management, and the leaders, and externally they had different meetings where this was brought up.”

“At the current stage, we are still experimenting and trying to find the best values Quantum computers can give.”

“However, in the future, the end users may get improved service, for example better route predictions.”

A practical master’s programme

“How satisfied are you with the master’s programme at OsloMet?”

“I learned a lot; especially how I can use academic contexts in the real world. I could use them; it was not just reading a book. It was practical and the academic environment was incredibly good.”

“Would you recommend the master’s programme to others?”

“Yes. I would particularly recommend the specialisation I chose in mathematical modelling if they like studying mathematics, and if they want to see the possibilities of doing something in practice and getting familiar with high tech, like quantum and machine learning.”

“Why should students be interested in quantum technology?”

“I can compare it with when computers first came to the market, nobody knew how to work with them. Now we can see AI and ChatGPT, and quantum technology. We are in the early stages of this technology. I am sure that we will greatly benefit from this in the future.”

In the picture at the top of the article, you see Maryam showing something she has done on the quantum computer to professors Sergiy Denysov and Sølve Selstø.

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